Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

19

The paymaster for Rich’s story was a tech giant, as is so often the case now, and it was not at all a coincidence that his epic about climate change unfolded not as a polemic but as a narrative human drama. Nor was it a coincidence that Rich’s essay curiously lacked a critique of capital’s sway over American politics or the power of our entrenched oligarchy and the central role these forces played in our Losing Earth. This is because the book-to-film complex is bolstered by two imperatives that now govern our nonfiction almost without exception: foreground story as an ultimate good, ahead of deep personal insight, literary style, investigative reporting, or almost any other consideration that goes into the shaping of written work; and do not question too closely the aristocracy of tech and capital that looms over us, the same people who subsidize the system that produces America’s writing. It’s impossible to say whether Rich had these considerations at the top of his mind as he shaped the piece, but it doesn’t matter. The power of book-to-film in American writing is in how it sits at the edge of the consciousness of every writer, editor, and podcast producer, a dark energy of the entertainment market that drives wealth and reward. You just have to tell a gripping story and leave the powers-that-be unnamed.

—p.19 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

The paymaster for Rich’s story was a tech giant, as is so often the case now, and it was not at all a coincidence that his epic about climate change unfolded not as a polemic but as a narrative human drama. Nor was it a coincidence that Rich’s essay curiously lacked a critique of capital’s sway over American politics or the power of our entrenched oligarchy and the central role these forces played in our Losing Earth. This is because the book-to-film complex is bolstered by two imperatives that now govern our nonfiction almost without exception: foreground story as an ultimate good, ahead of deep personal insight, literary style, investigative reporting, or almost any other consideration that goes into the shaping of written work; and do not question too closely the aristocracy of tech and capital that looms over us, the same people who subsidize the system that produces America’s writing. It’s impossible to say whether Rich had these considerations at the top of his mind as he shaped the piece, but it doesn’t matter. The power of book-to-film in American writing is in how it sits at the edge of the consciousness of every writer, editor, and podcast producer, a dark energy of the entertainment market that drives wealth and reward. You just have to tell a gripping story and leave the powers-that-be unnamed.

—p.19 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago
20

[...] Epic is just one more publishing vehicle that can’t make money by actually publishing. The company’s real money comes from presenting itself as a curator of elite content, which it offers to brands like Ford and Google in the form of long-form reporting: “Epic story hunters travel the world in search of true stories that reflect a brand’s spirit and ethos,” their business description read until recently, when Vox Media completed an acquisition of the company for an undisclosed sum. “Epic turns the stories into documentary films, magazines, books, video games, photo essays, live events, and speeches that express a brand’s values.” This is, of course, the logic of this moment—that what you might have once thought of as literary publishing is, when you get down to it, just high-status corporate content generation.

fuck me

—p.20 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] Epic is just one more publishing vehicle that can’t make money by actually publishing. The company’s real money comes from presenting itself as a curator of elite content, which it offers to brands like Ford and Google in the form of long-form reporting: “Epic story hunters travel the world in search of true stories that reflect a brand’s spirit and ethos,” their business description read until recently, when Vox Media completed an acquisition of the company for an undisclosed sum. “Epic turns the stories into documentary films, magazines, books, video games, photo essays, live events, and speeches that express a brand’s values.” This is, of course, the logic of this moment—that what you might have once thought of as literary publishing is, when you get down to it, just high-status corporate content generation.

fuck me

—p.20 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago
21

[...] The desire is always for work that puts narrative ahead of all other considerations, and this is the kind of writing that now dominates our literature: it describes the world without having a worldview. Which is a workable definition of the kind of writing most easily converted into IP.

This circumstance didn’t emerge because a handful of tech companies suddenly started competing to buy all the stories that American writers can produce. Anyone with an interest in the history of American letters already knows how in the 1950s the rise of the MFA workshop system produced an imperative toward a show-don’t-tell, narrative-first formula for fiction writing. This was, in large part, because the first prominent director of the first prominent workshop program wanted to cultivate a kind of writing that supported American political orthodoxy—a detail that has important echoes for today. Work that placed story ahead of political or moral considerations had the convenient feature of being unthreatening to power, and it was this kind of writing that the program managed to make into the unquestioned standard for quality in American fiction. More than half of the MFA programs that arose in the wake of Iowa’s rise—funded by donations from the CIA and by America’s mid-century corporate patricians—were founded by graduates of this program. Over time, many readers and critics came to see workshop-style writing as the standard for quality fiction, and many still do—a fact that writers are aware of, ambiently or otherwise. Writing has always involved some level of accommodating power and public taste.

—p.21 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

[...] The desire is always for work that puts narrative ahead of all other considerations, and this is the kind of writing that now dominates our literature: it describes the world without having a worldview. Which is a workable definition of the kind of writing most easily converted into IP.

This circumstance didn’t emerge because a handful of tech companies suddenly started competing to buy all the stories that American writers can produce. Anyone with an interest in the history of American letters already knows how in the 1950s the rise of the MFA workshop system produced an imperative toward a show-don’t-tell, narrative-first formula for fiction writing. This was, in large part, because the first prominent director of the first prominent workshop program wanted to cultivate a kind of writing that supported American political orthodoxy—a detail that has important echoes for today. Work that placed story ahead of political or moral considerations had the convenient feature of being unthreatening to power, and it was this kind of writing that the program managed to make into the unquestioned standard for quality in American fiction. More than half of the MFA programs that arose in the wake of Iowa’s rise—funded by donations from the CIA and by America’s mid-century corporate patricians—were founded by graduates of this program. Over time, many readers and critics came to see workshop-style writing as the standard for quality fiction, and many still do—a fact that writers are aware of, ambiently or otherwise. Writing has always involved some level of accommodating power and public taste.

—p.21 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago
25

And we can name the trash this system encourages for what it is. It isn’t that we lack writers who can write well—just like many trash novels written to fit market demands in the fifties hold up well today. Writers have always had to work with and against a marketplace designed by the rich and powerful. But I personally can’t help feeling alarmed and enraged by the ways writers are now driven by incentives to fill the needs of creative executives working in Amazon’s film studio. It feels wildly dispiriting to see how much my friends and I casually accept the idea that we should craft our work to fit a commercial imperative—the entire system of our writing and reporting now being market-tested and data-driven and robbed by financial forces of much of its lasting value. There is a part of me that wants to grab all the rewards that come from this system, but it’s the part of me good writing is meant to kill.

—p.25 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

And we can name the trash this system encourages for what it is. It isn’t that we lack writers who can write well—just like many trash novels written to fit market demands in the fifties hold up well today. Writers have always had to work with and against a marketplace designed by the rich and powerful. But I personally can’t help feeling alarmed and enraged by the ways writers are now driven by incentives to fill the needs of creative executives working in Amazon’s film studio. It feels wildly dispiriting to see how much my friends and I casually accept the idea that we should craft our work to fit a commercial imperative—the entire system of our writing and reporting now being market-tested and data-driven and robbed by financial forces of much of its lasting value. There is a part of me that wants to grab all the rewards that come from this system, but it’s the part of me good writing is meant to kill.

—p.25 They Made a Movie Out of It (16) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago
59

But the discipline of thought is not generalization; it is detail, and it is personal behavior. While the government is “studying” and funding and organizing its Big Thoughts, nothing is being done. But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem.

This is splendid prose. It is disastrous advice. Leave aside the implicit belittling of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other examples of “plan-making” and “law-making” that tens of millions of Americans have felt very grateful for. Look to the present balance of forces: the structures of legislative, electoral, ideological, and financial control in the United States are deeply entrenched, highly resistant to citizen initiative, and virtually without exception geared to the needs of the country’s largest industries and banks. Nothing those plutocrats do not wish to be done will be done in America, even if a hundred million Little Thinkers “go ahead on their own.” Only if that hundred million organize themselves and coordinate their efforts—in other words, become Big Thinkers—is there the slightest hope for wresting control of our country from this corporate/financial oligarchy. Berry himself has been an exemplary activist in his day, especially in opposing the strip mining that has disfigured much of his lovely region. Unfortunately, the coal industry out-strategized the activists—not to mention deploying vastly greater financial resources. But would any degree of uncoordinated private individual virtue have had better luck stopping them?

No amount of recycling, farming right, eating right, being neighborly, or being personally responsible in other ways will matter much if we don’t subsidize solar and wind power, raise mileage requirements, steeply tax carbon, drastically reduce plastic production, kill coal, and provide jobs for all those whom these measures would disemploy. (We could put them to work on infrastructure and renewables, which we would invest in with the proceeds of steep wealth and corporate—especially energy—taxes.) In a face-to-face society, virtue is the right lever. Unfortunately, we live in a mass society, thoroughly bureaucratized and institutionalized, dense with complex systems, which only large aggregations of people (or money) can move. We need more, not fewer, plans, laws, and policies, but democratically formulated ones.

amen

—p.59 Back to the Land (54) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

But the discipline of thought is not generalization; it is detail, and it is personal behavior. While the government is “studying” and funding and organizing its Big Thoughts, nothing is being done. But the citizen who is willing to Think Little, and accepting the discipline of that, to go ahead on his own, is already solving the problem.

This is splendid prose. It is disastrous advice. Leave aside the implicit belittling of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other examples of “plan-making” and “law-making” that tens of millions of Americans have felt very grateful for. Look to the present balance of forces: the structures of legislative, electoral, ideological, and financial control in the United States are deeply entrenched, highly resistant to citizen initiative, and virtually without exception geared to the needs of the country’s largest industries and banks. Nothing those plutocrats do not wish to be done will be done in America, even if a hundred million Little Thinkers “go ahead on their own.” Only if that hundred million organize themselves and coordinate their efforts—in other words, become Big Thinkers—is there the slightest hope for wresting control of our country from this corporate/financial oligarchy. Berry himself has been an exemplary activist in his day, especially in opposing the strip mining that has disfigured much of his lovely region. Unfortunately, the coal industry out-strategized the activists—not to mention deploying vastly greater financial resources. But would any degree of uncoordinated private individual virtue have had better luck stopping them?

No amount of recycling, farming right, eating right, being neighborly, or being personally responsible in other ways will matter much if we don’t subsidize solar and wind power, raise mileage requirements, steeply tax carbon, drastically reduce plastic production, kill coal, and provide jobs for all those whom these measures would disemploy. (We could put them to work on infrastructure and renewables, which we would invest in with the proceeds of steep wealth and corporate—especially energy—taxes.) In a face-to-face society, virtue is the right lever. Unfortunately, we live in a mass society, thoroughly bureaucratized and institutionalized, dense with complex systems, which only large aggregations of people (or money) can move. We need more, not fewer, plans, laws, and policies, but democratically formulated ones.

amen

—p.59 Back to the Land (54) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago
69

Other clients were deranged and dangerous. One day a Charles Manson clone slithered up to the counter with a canvas bundle; I recoiled. When he unveiled his goods, I saw a handful of glistening knives emblazoned with swastikas. “Take these?” he hissed. I turned him away. A few minutes later, I told the rest of the pawnbrokers. Incredulous, they berated me for rejecting his Nazi paraphernalia, which they knew to be highly collectible in those parts. They also warned that he might return with a vengeance. In a way, he did.

damn

—p.69 Afternoon of the Pawnbrokers (62) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Other clients were deranged and dangerous. One day a Charles Manson clone slithered up to the counter with a canvas bundle; I recoiled. When he unveiled his goods, I saw a handful of glistening knives emblazoned with swastikas. “Take these?” he hissed. I turned him away. A few minutes later, I told the rest of the pawnbrokers. Incredulous, they berated me for rejecting his Nazi paraphernalia, which they knew to be highly collectible in those parts. They also warned that he might return with a vengeance. In a way, he did.

damn

—p.69 Afternoon of the Pawnbrokers (62) missing author 7 months, 3 weeks ago